Mr. Versatile

Dylan Burkhardt

manny-osuevan-turner-mich manny-turner

Fran Fraschilla recently ranked the most versatile players in the country (ESPN Insider). The article is behind a pay wall but Fraschilla defines a versatile player as follows:

To me, it’s a player who could help me win if I had to play five of him on the court at one time. Hasheem Thabeet was a dominating presence last season, but I wouldn’t want him bringing the ball up the court or coming off screens to shoot jumpers. On the other hand, Louisville’s Terrence Williams was drafted in large part because he played effectively everywhere for Rick Pitino. In football, I am not sure I could win with 11 Jared Allens on defense, but I’d take my chances with the speed, strength and quickness of eleven Troy Polamalus.

The Big Ten’s very own Evan Turner took down the title as the most versatile player in the country. It’s hard to argue with that, Turner can play anywhere on the wing and will likely run the point guard this year. The other Big Ten player on the list is Purdue’s Robbie Hummel, another pick that I can’t argue with.

The one qualm I have with Fraschilla’s listing is that Manny Harris is nowhere to be found, not even under “just missed the cut”. I know Fraschilla has nothing against Manny, he probably wanted to open the list up to other conferences, however I think Harris deserves some credit for his versatility.

Let’s start with a comparison of Manny Harris and Evan Turner’s numbers from a year ago. Here are some of the vitals:

Statistic Turner Harris
O-Rating 107.7 107.3
Usage 29.5% 31.5%
eFG% 51.6% 47.4%
3-Pt Shooting 11/25 (44%) 52/159 (32.7%)
FT Rate 57.8% 46.7%
Off Reb (%) 1.7 (6.5%) 1.8 (6.5%)
Def Reb (%) 5.4 (17.1%) 5 (19.1%)
Assists (%) 3.97 (25.8%) 4.4 (32.2%)
A/T Ratio 1.1 1.4

These numbers are about as close to a statistical draw as you can get. Turner is slightly more efficient, a better shooter (although the three point shoot is barely a part of arsenal) and manages to get to the line a bit more. However, Harris is a better rebounder (tempo free), dishes out more assists, and turns the ball over fewer times. Turner also has a slight edge in blocks and steals.

I am a big Evan Turner fan, and thought he probably deserved Big Ten Player of the Year last year, but Manny Harris deserves to at least be in this conversation. You would be hard pressed to find any two players who rank near the top of their conference in scoring, rebounding, assists, free throw percentage, and steals the way that Turner and Harris do. If we’re talking about putting out five of the same player on the floor, I’d pay money to see five Mannys battle five Turners.

This year I expect Turner’s scoring and rebounding numbers to see a slight decline from playing the point guard but his assist numbers should make a big jump. For Harris, the key is to improve his shooting percentage, if he can improve his three point shooting percentage another two or three percent his statistical profile begins to look eerily similar to James Harden.

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  • Tom, Too.

    I am surprised that FF didn’t list Manny as well. I know he loves Manny’s game and JB’s coaching. I guess we can’t get mentioned on EVERY pre-season article, which seems to be happening now.

  • Michigan Man

    I’m probably going to take a lot of heat for this post, but I actually don’t believe Manny belongs in the same category of versatility as a lot of these other players.

    I have serious doubts about Manny’s ability to play PG (mostly the role of bringing the ball up the court on a majority of possessions). In his first two years, I was always scared when Manny was bringing the ball up the court. He’s great with the ball when slashing to the hoop, but I can recall too many times when Manny got a steal and immediately turned the ball back over because of a travel or a wild pass. Hopefully he has improved handles this year because I feel those extra possessions may be the key to winning some tough games and it’s probably a key for his draft stock.

    And in Beilein’s offense, there isn’t much of a difference between the two guards (1 and 2), so I don’t think Manny fits either of these positions.

    Obviously Manny can play the small forward position well.

    And I feel that Manny would struggle if he played at the power forward and (obviously) center positions. Manny is a great defender when he wants to be, but matching up with some of the 4’s and all of the 5’s (especially on bigger teams like Ohio St. and Wisconsin) would take its toll. I don’t think Manny would be the same player on offense because he would have to expend way too much energy on the defensive end. I kind of saw this with Novak last year when he was really battling. And we all know Manny is best on offense when he is active. There would be times last year where Manny wouldn’t move much and it ruined the flow of the offense.

    While I don’t think Manny can play much at the 4 or the 5, I do believe he can rebound with these guys any time he wants to. I love when he goes up strong for a rebound because it seems like he always comes down with the board.

  • JayRich



    I think Manny is more versatile then Hummel. Hummel has a little size on Manny but I will take Manny playing the PG spot over Hummel and I think they would be semi equal stats wise down low although Hummel would be better defensively due to his size. But Manny would make up for that with his athleticism.

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  • JBlair52

    manny doesnt have the body to play in the post and he doesnt have the handles to play the 1.

    nothing against him – most players arent able to play more than 1 or maybe 2 positions.

    that said – he’s a killer wing or SG. and does a lot from that spot – rebounds, scores, dishes, defends, etc.